Monday, March 12, 2007

Job Interviews in Hanoi Part II

A while ago, I posted the first part of a story about my job hunting experiences in Hanoi. This is part II.

Tam Coc

I also went to the Sunway hotel looking for a receptionist job, and I got the funniest result ever. I came in with my friends who also used to work at the Emperor. Her English is fine and she's from Bac Giang, north of Hanoi. We had interviews and they called her to offer her a job and I failed. She asked the human resources manager about me, and he said: "my Vietnamese accent is bad and my English accent is so wierd." It made me laugh. I didn't think it was important for foreign customers in a 5 star hotel to understand my Vietnamese accent. I decided I would have to speak in Hanoian accent from then on if I wanted to have a job, I joked with her.

Wild Rice rest

Before I went to the Sun Way hotel, I went to the Hilton Opera Hotel and applied for a job as restaurant captain with some of my friends who used to work at the Emperor. I did my test well, had an interview but they refused me with the same reason as the Sun Way hotel but at the Hilton, the manager told me that my English and my qualifications to be a waiter in their hotel were not enough even though I had been working in hospitality for almost 7 years. Some of my friends were accepted even though they had no experience. Anyway, after 2 months, they called me again and asked me to work in the banquet department doing parties, which was actually a porter job :) involving carrying tables, chairs and serving food with a really low salary 700,000Vnd-$45. I called the manager, Luong - I remembered his name - I said please don't waste your time and my time, what can I do with 700,000Vnd, this money is not enough for my breakfast and petrol money, but I appeciated his call :)

Coc - fruit

After some of these work hunting experiences, I realized that Hanoians think that when you are from the country side or from another city, you really need a job and you have to accept any job with whatever salary. They don't realize that we don't do that in the south. There, employees do need qualifications but the most important is what you can do and if you do it well then you get a better job. This is the opposite in Hanoi where they always ask for many certificates but for what? There are so many people who don't have ceritficate but they do a better job than the others because they started their job from a very low position or they started work early in their lives. What do you really think about this? If you are a boss of a company, will you accept a new staff member with lots of certificates or a staff member with experience?


D. said...

The answer, at least for me, is both. Certificates and experience.

I've recently talked to a number of people in an interviewing capacity (different field than yours), and was frankly disappointed at the lack of experience they had/showed.

Certificates mean I may be able to teach you; experience means you've actually learned it. But a bunch of experience isn't ideal either, because like any organization, I think my organization does it the "right" way and too much experience means I'll have to "untrain" the staff before I train them in our organization's methods.

BTW, what is your VN accent?

Anonymous said...

I think you're just going through a rough patch. I'm quite sure you'll find something that is suitable for your skills and experiences.

Being a manager, I would say it really depends on the position. I usually skim through resumes looking for education first, and then experiences. So for me, education counts more than experience unless the applicant shows extraordinary skills (say cooking or baking skills) that specifically applicable to the position, but that is rare. For hospitality positions, I would imagine they look for presentation (i.e. your image, how you present yourself) and language skills. The latter usually comes from education, so in your case, that should be heavily weighted.

Furkids in Hong Kong™ said...

First of all, I think your English can't possibly be what they've termed, not up to par!

Regarding the qualities I personally look for in my staff? Integrity and Attitude. I've always believed that it's of complete no use to employ the brightest person in the world who has no integrity and is a lazy-arse. Last, for me, or for the work I give my staff, would be qualifications - since the work required is easily trainable.

Of course, proper certification would be required for certain professions/positions. But I agree with you that employing people based purely on number of certification is not a good way of assessing a good employee.

Nonetheless, good luck with your job hunting and hope to hear of some good news from you soon!

junebee said...

My husband interviews people for his job (complex business rules software consulting). He appreciates honesty more than anything. If the applicant does not have alot of experience in the software, the applicant should be honest right away rather than dodging the question. I would say that to my husband, experience in that particular type of software counts more than degrees or certificates.

Anonymous said...

put some money under the table and everything will work out fine. Come on, you should know by now. This is how things work in VN. In the West, we call that "application fee"

Thuy said...

Certificates doesn't mean anything if you can "buy" them.
In America, I think most managers look at experience first, and education next. If he/she is interviewing 2 candidates with same experience and skills, having an education is a plus. I know the situations are different in Vietnam.
BTW I think your English is excellent!

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine somebody said that your English was bad. I used to work in a foreign company in HCMC and can tell you that of all 300+ Vietnamese uni graduates there, from the directors down to new recruits, none of them could write half as good as you do.

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